We had a a busy weekend catching up on projects that had long been over due. As much as I love gardening, I’d rather be planning or planting than doing grunt work, but without the latter, it’s hard to do the former.
Over the years, the bark we’d used as mulch in the planting strip outside the front yard fence had broken down or been washed away by the winter rains, and in quite a few spots the soil had begun to look like this:
|Cracked soil due to lack of mulch|
This planting strip gets full sun for 6-8 hours. Without a protective mulch, the plants would fry in our hot summer weather since water would just run off without really soaking in (the planting strip slants down to the street).
On Friday I ordered bark from Dixon Landscape Materials in nearby Dixon, CA and on Saturday morning we went to work.
|2 cubic yards of bark in our driveway |
(the decomposed granite is for another project that was supposed to happen this weekend but didn’t)
|In addition to keeping the soil cool and minimizing evaporation of precious water, fresh bark looks and smells awesome|
|This is the emerald bamboo (Bambusa textilis ‘Mutabilis’) |
which I recently planted
|I also mulched the stock tanks we installed last December|
Another chore that really needed to be done was to pressure-wash the flagstone walkway and patio in the front of our house. Installed in the summer of 2006, this flagstone has had no maintenance other than occasional sweeping. Since this past winter had been a long and rainy one, a lot of grime and moss had settled on the stone, making it look permanently dirty and dingy.
Our neighbor (the best neighbor in the world, I might add, and not just because she makes awesome cakes and cookies) let me use her pressure washer and so I spent a couple of hours on Sunday spritzing all the grime away.
The difference is like night and day. While I had known that the flagstone was dirty, I hadn’t really known how dirty until it was clean again.
|Before and after|
|Front walkway after pressure washing|
The final project of the weekend was the easiest and quickest of them all. We love to eat and cook Mexican food, and in the last few years I’ve been experimenting with moles, the rich sauces that are the hallmark of Mexican regional cuisine. Many use chili peppers that are very hard to find in the U.S., and some—like the famous chilhuacle from Oaxaca—are hard to source even in Mexico. Instead of always using substitutes that are never quite the real thing, I decided to grow my own specialty peppers from seeds. My original intention had been to start the seeds indoor in January or February, but somehow time got away from me. Now it’s mid-April and our daytime temperatures are consistently in the 70s so the soil should be warm enough to sow straight in the ground.
Since our four raised vegetable beds were empty except for some snap peas, I appropriated half of the biggest bed and sowed the varieties shown above. I believe there were 15 or 20 seeds in each package, but I don’t expect them all to germinate. In fact, if I get 5 or each, I’d be happy. Germination can be pretty slow so I’m trying to be patient while I keep the soil moist. I’ll keep you updated on my great Mexican pepper experiment of 2011!